Movie Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” – Past its Prime

Written by Leo Panasyuk July 07, 2014

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Michael Bay: the Internet-proclaimed king of explosions. You more or less know what you’re in for when you sit down to watch one of his films: explosions, scantily-clad and airbrushed women, over-the-top violence, more explosions. Bay has been a confusing topic for me for years and I still can’t tell whether I genuinely like him or hate him to the point of liking him out of sheer pity – but that’s something for another time. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is the latest entry into Bay’s bombastic modern-day iteration of the beloved 80s children’s show and while the film actually takes itself seriously in some respects, it ultimately fails to transform itself into anything special or worthy of note.

“Where is Optimus Prime?”

It’s been four years since the destructive Battle of Chicago in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and the world is still reeling from the effects of the Autobot/Decepticon blood (more so oil) feud fought on planet Earth. The last remnants of the Autobots are being hunted down by a government agency known as Cemetery Wind, with the help of Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan), a Cybertronian bounty hunter who swears no allegiance to either Autobot or Decepticon. When failed robotics engineer Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) discovers a rusted old truck is actually Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen), he and his daughter are placed in the crosshairs of Cemetery Wind, Lockdown, and a paranoid CIA agent (Kelsey Grammer) hell-bent on ridding the world of the Transformers.

Gas is exactly what this franchise has run out of at this point.

Gas is exactly what this franchise has run out of at this point.

“We Don’t Need You Anymore.”

I didn’t expect much from “Age” and that’s exactly what I got. If you’ve seen all (or at least one) of the previous films in Bay’s “Transformers” franchise, you’ve seen this one. Nothing substantially new has been added here, as the core elements of the last three films have been recycled and reused with the hope that audiences wouldn’t notice. Well… we did. The basic structure Bay has used before is here and the only alteration is that the action sequences have been exploded into a bloated, boring mess. There are two primary action sequences in “Age” that both start strong but finish flimsy. It may look good on paper to have an hour-long action setpiece but if your audience is bored to tears halfway through, what’s the point? Easy screenwriting, that’s what.

There’s not much to be said about Marky Mark and his funky bunch of friends. As much as I like Wahlberg, I felt like he was given a role unbefitting his skill as an actor. He plays a failed robotics engineer (a point, like many others, which are forcibly shoved down our throats repeatedly) who comes across as more tough and muscle-y than he should be – he’s essentially retreading his role in last year’s Bay-fest “Pain and Gain.” His daughter (Nicola Peltz) has been Bay-ified with long blonde hair, denim short shorts, and enough low-angle shots of her walking from behind to make you feel uncomfortable. Stanley Tucci, as always, gives an enthusiastic and oftentimes comedic performance and without him and Wahlberg, this film would have suffered greatly in the acting department. Ken Watanabe and John Goodman stop by to lend their voices to two (forgettable) Autobots who come across as stereotypic and annoying, respectively. Now what about those much-teased and highly-anticipated Dinobots?

Bay giveth, and he taketh away.

Bay giveth Dinobots, and he taketh away Dinobots.

“We Need a New Army!”

“Age of Extinction” marks the second time this summer that a film has promised something and failed to deliver – I’m looking at you, “Godzilla.” The Dinobots, as awesome as they are, are introduced far too late and disappear far too soon. The film fools you into thinking they are a focal point of the Autobots’ resistance, when they only show up for one two-minute long cameo after being extremely easily conscripted by Prime to fight Lockdown. Megatron has a bit of a comeback but it’s less resurrection and more redirection, as he is now Galvatron, though no discernible differences between them exist. Bay, new formula: less bullshit, more real shit.

Overall

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is yet another entry in Michael Bay’s explosive robots-in-disguise franchise which offers little originality to its recycled formula in favour of more explosions and more non-sensical garbage which is less than what should meet the eye. With a couple of strong performances from veteran actors Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci, along with a decidedly formidable if underused new antagonist, this film manages to save itself from being a complete bore. At 165 minutes, this is Bay’s longest “Transformers” to date, but I’ll be damned if you can sit through it all and still maintain a consistent level of enthusiasm. Autobots, roll out… forever.

My Rating: 3/10

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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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